Numbers 35:16
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
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35:9-34 To show plainly the abhorrence of murder, and to provide the more effectually for the punishment of the murderer, the nearest relation of the deceased, under the title of avenger of blood, (or the redeemer of blood,) in notorious cases, might pursue, and execute vengeance. A distinction is made, not between sudden anger and malice aforethought, both which are the crime of murder; but between intentionally striking a man with any weapon likely to cause death, and an unintentional blow. In the latter case alone, the city of refuge afforded protection. Murder in all its forms, and under all disguises, pollutes a land. Alas! that so many murders, under the name of duels, prize-fights, &c. should pass unpunished. There were six cities of refuge; one or other might be reached in less than a day's journey from any part of the land. To these, man-slayers might flee for refuge, and be safe, till they had a fair trial. If acquitted from the charge, they were protected from the avenger of blood; yet they must continue within the bounds of the city till the death of the high priest. Thus we are reminded that the death of the great High Priest is the only means whereby sins are pardoned, and sinners set at liberty. These cities are plainly alluded to, both in the Old and New Testament, we cannot doubt the typical character of their appointment. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, saith the voice of mercy, Zec 9:12, alluding to the city of refuge. St. Paul describes the strong consolation of fleeing for refuge to the hope set before us, in a passage always applied to the gracious appointment of the cities of refuge, Heb 6:18. The rich mercies of salvation, through Christ, prefigured by these cities, demand our regard. 1. Did the ancient city rear its towers of safety on high? See Christ raised up on the cross; and is he not exalted at the right hand of his Father, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins? 2. Does not the highway of salvation, resemble the smooth and plain path to the city of refuge? Survey the path that leads to the Redeemer. Is there any stumbling-block to be found therein, except that which an evil heart of unbelief supplies for its own fall? 3. Waymarks were set up pointing to the city. And is it not the office of the ministers of the gospel to direct sinners to Him? 4. The gate of the city stood open night and day. Has not Christ declared, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out? 5. The city of refuge afforded support to every one who entered its walls. Those who have reached the refuge, may live by faith on Him whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. 6. The city was a refuge for all. In the gospel there is no respect of persons. That soul lives not which deserves not Divine wrath; that soul lives not which may not in simple faith hope for salvation and life eternal, through the Son of God.The sense is: Inasmuch as to take another man's life by any means whatsoever is murder, and exposes the murderer to the penalty of retaliation; so, if the deed is done in hostility, it is in truth actual murder, and the murderer shall be slain; but if it be not done in hostility, then the congregation shall interpose to stop the avenger's hand.16-21. If he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, &c.—Various cases are here enumerated in which the Goel or avenger was at liberty to take the life of the murderer; and every one of them proves a premeditated purpose. If he smite him, wittingly and wilfully, though not with premeditated malice or design, as appears by comparing this with Numbers 35:20-23.

So that he die, to wit, suddenly, not so if he walked abroad afterward, Exodus 21:19,20.

Shall surely be put to death; yea, though he were fled into the city of refuge.

And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die,.... As with an hatchet, hammer, sword, knife, &c.

he is a murderer; the instrument used by him, and with which he smote, shows that he had a bad design, and intended to kill, or he would never have smitten a man with such an instrument:

the murderer shall surely be put to death; be condemned to death, and be executed, by the order of the civil magistrate, according to the law in Genesis 9:6 and not be allowed the benefit of a city of refuge.

And if he {f} smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

(f) Wittingly, and willingly.

16–23. Specimen cases of murder and accidental homicide respectively; cf. Exodus 21:13 f.

Verse 16. - With an instrument of iron. There is no reasonable doubt that בַּרְיֶל has here (as elsewhere) its proper meaning of iron. The expression must be held to include both weapons and other instruments; the former may have been mostly made of bronze, but where iron is used at all it is sure to be employed in war. Numbers 35:16Special instructions are given in Numbers 35:16-28, with reference to the judicial procedure. First of all (Numbers 35:16-21), with regard to qualified slaying or murder. If any person has struck another with an iron instrument (an axe, hatchet, hammer, etc.), or "with a stone of the hand, from which one dies," i.e., with a stone which filled the hand, - a large stone, therefore, with which it was possible to kill, - or "with a wooden instrument of the hand, from which one dies," i.e., with a thick club, or a large, strong wooden instrument, and he then died (so that he died in consequence), he was a murderer, who was to be put to death. "For the suspicion would rest upon any one who had used an instrument, that endangered life and therefore was not generally used in striking, that he had intended to take life away" (Knobel).
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